A/N: An example of the unpure love between Elizabeth and Barbossa. Sorry, but at least I took out the transcendental/dentist joke.
Its not the first argument she's had with Will, and married life being what it usually is, it isn't likely to be the last. But it does go the furthest, the deepest, as she got more irritable and defensive and took stabs at him haphazardly, expecting him to deflect but not to return.
But he does.
She's pacing the deck, arms in the air, deftly impugning Jack's name and calling evil upon him for making them take this trek across the world, when Will tires of listening and turns those dull, childlike eyes on her. He looks her in the face for the first time in months.
"Shouldn't you be defending him," he mutters, for though he prides himself on righteous anger, he's never quite learned to manage it where she's concerned. She approves of righteous anger when applied in the right quarters but this does not include herself. She stares at him dumbstruck for a moment before icily demanding what he means by it.
He can't meet her eyes now; his gaze falters and falls. "I saw you kissing him, Elizabeth."
Its of course on the tip of her tongue to spout denials or explanations, anything but an apology, but she bites it off harshly and stands for a moment, looking out to sea, the wind lifting her hair away from her neck.
When she speaks, its to tell him that he tastes of soot and Jack of salt, and if nothing else she could never bring herself to regret experiences: taking when the opportunity presents itself.
This distracts him, as she'd hoped, and angrily diverts him to the path of their love and how sacred it should be, how transcendental and pure. She tells him rather smartly that transcendentalism is hardly fitting for a proper Christian woman and he says tiredly that neither is kissing someone not your husband or your intended, and things go downhill from there. When he bites his final words off and lowers his raised hand, marching away from her quickly, she turns towards the ocean and plants her elbows on the rail, scowling at the surf.
A voice from behind her says, "I take it there's trouble in yon Garden of Eden," and the serpent appears beside her, complete with apple, which he tosses in the air and catches, tosses in the air and catches, and didn't touch the rail for fear that added support would ruin his own equilibrium. She believes the hat is attached to his hair irrevocably, for she's never seen him without it; when she turns to look at him he gives her a look from underneath the dipped brim, and it is unmistakably a leer.
"I hardly think its any of your concern," she raps out, and he grins with yellowed and broken teeth, his eyes feral.
"Anything that may influence the feeling on my ship, for good or bad, is my concern," he states. "That's the responsibility— nay, the duties— of a captain, to keep a weather eye on the settle of his crew. Wouldn't like things to develop into a mutiny, now, would we?"
"As you would know," she says quietly, under her breath, and glances back at him sharply. "You may keep your eye on the 'settles' if you must, but I would hardly credit you with interest in my happiness, or Will's either, for that matter."
"Aye," he agrees, biting down on the word, "so call me a student of human nature if you will. Just what be the conditions between yourself and my recently deceased colleague? If ye'll not answer," he adds hastily, "I can surmise myself. Judging by the upset of young Mister Turner, I'd venture a guess that things were not conducted all as a lady should, Miss Swann."
She turns on him, Jack's last word, an epithet for a no-longer gentlewoman, buzzing in her mind. Pirate. "Captain Barbossa, I really must protest. This is an invasion of my privacy—"
"Aye, an' we're headed to find the man again," he carried on regardless, "and before too long, if all goes as it ought, your 'privacy' will be played out, mayhap on this very deck. So ye'd best be telling me the truth of things, so's I know where we all stand." He steps forward and she thought— not for the first time— that pirates in general had no inkling of what constituted a violation of personal space. His breath is hot on her neck and his eyes swallowed her world. She catches herself in the midst of an involuntary shudder and forces her mind to back away from remembering the last time he'd been this close; but his eyes were alert for any change and they sharpen as he understands the path her memory was taking.
"So's I know where we all stand," he repeats, and it is all she can do not to slap him then and there. But he was a dangerous man still, immortal or not, and she catches her wrist in her other hand to control it. She thinks perhaps its wise to keep playing this game, keep dancing around the admittance of what happened nearly a year ago; then again, he is a pirate, and for him it must have been nothing out of the ordinary.
She will play the game, still, because she is a gentlewoman by name and right if not by nature.
"I can hardly conceive of what you mean," she starts, artfully, "and the status of the one gentleman of my acquaintance must always be that of my protector as I could hardly trust such a task to a pirate." Traitor, she thinks of herself. "As for the rest, that remains to be seen. Neither Captain Sparrow nor I have been entirely truthful with one another. I suspect in the event that we rescue him we will be forced to sort things out. If he is not amenable to such sorting then I shall simply go on my way." Liar, she thinks in admonition.
He leans even further forward. "Liar," he hisses into her face, in such direct mimicry of her own thoughts that she jumps involuntarily.
"What do you mean, sir," she says, and her voice is cold.
"Ye've not moved on from anything," he says, that evil grin reappearing and disappearing deftly behind his words, "so far as I can tell, and so what makes ye think that ye can move on from that? I understand it was ye who condemned the man, and I can do naught else but thank ye for it. But ye condemn your 'gentleman' just the same, and I tell ye, when ye change the original nature of yerself into that of a pirate, there is no going back." He narrows his eyes at her. "A friendly warning, missy. Ye get in my way—"
"I've no wish to be a captain," she says.
"Liar," he says again, and is right.
She can recall without flinching the night she confessed to him her desire to be a seafarer; it came as the result of much wine and loosening of inhibitions and corset ties. Despite her being a prisoner, kept on his ship for days now on the journey to the Isle de Muerta, with no company but that of skeletal, undead scallywags, she was inclined to good spirits, for, as she told him at great length, at least she'd managed to fulfill that dream.
He'd told her promptly that she was a silly girl, to think that the fulfillment of it would be the end of the desire. She hadn't quite paid him any attention.
It seemed to her, she had said, frowning slightly with the effort of stringing coherent sentences together, that this adventure would put an end to a great deal of her dreams, for it looked unlikely that she'd escape it in one piece. She then offered to try and buy her life from him; he'd pointed out that she had next to nothing with which to bargain; and she looked muzzled down at herself in some confusion, trying to sort this out. A thought had crossed her mind that should have entered no gentlewoman's thoughts, though, she told herself, without the influence of the wine undoubtedly she should have kept it successfully at bay. Barbossa had read it in her eyes and her experimental plucking at her dress, and caught with one hand at both her wrists, and pulled her to her feet.
He ran the back of his other hand down her side, from below her shoulders to below her hips.
She blinked at him.
"Anything?" she said.
"Nothing," he said, in some regret.
The impossibility of feeling her skin beneath his notwithstanding, he was still able to use his eyes, and every night it turned out that he would come to watch her sleep, the rich purple dress discarded carelessly onto the ground, the stained sheets twined around her limbs, her breathing even and slow until she awoke to find him standing in the doorway; she didn't get back to sleep after that, but he didn't care to leave her be either. Just stood and watched the frightened, apprehensive rise and fall of her chest. Seemed to see beneath the flesh to the terrified beat of her heart, fast enough to dance a hornpipe to, steady enough to push his ship through the waters, on to their destination.
That was then, and this was now, and she can't bring herself to admit that she had got her wish; that he was right about the sea, and about lust: once you have that wandering, you never want to let go. Once is never enough, and it isn't about fulfilling a dream.
"It hardly matters," she says at last, and turns back to looking out at the ocean. It stretches blue and implacable and unknowable and impossibly possible, and she contents herself with reaching for the horizon with her eyes.
He waits some moments more before she concedes, "I will not get in your way, Captain Barbossa. You have my word on that."
"Aye," he agrees, "your word— and that means what to me?"
His eyes are narrowed at her suspiciously; he will expect the truth, and accept nothing else.
She has to admit it.
"It is the word of a pirate," she says finally, and meets his eyes.
He exhales harshly, in some surprise— or perhaps in no surprise at all— and nods brusquely. "I accept. But, Miss Swann— ye'll have to square with Jack and yer gentleman. I don't allow loose ends on my ship."
She inclines her head in a brief nod of acknowledgment, and recognizes on his face the determination to do some squaring of his own. She wonders if he thinks to himself that she belonged to him once, and wonders if he intends for her to belong to him again. With him, as with Jack, it's the question of being a possession. With Will, it's the question of being a success, a mark of his triumph over his undesirable heritage. She wonders if there's a possibility of belonging to herself, ever.
She suspects, with the three, not.
She wonders if Barbossa remembers the night she bargained for her life, and the subsequent morning when he did not kill her; but implied to her that she would not be wasted.
She realizes now, as he brings the back of his hand down her spine caressingly, that he is no longer immortal, and can feel everything there is to feel.
"No loose ends," she says tightly. "No more bargaining. No more gentlewoman."
She will not slap him, because he's dangerous enough without being further enraged. Neither can she allow this sort of behavior to be encouraged, because he frightens her, and because he is not Jack or Will. She is her own woman, she thinks, and is quite wrong.
Perhaps it is because he frightens her, or perhaps it is because it simply difficult, or perhaps there is no reason at all; but it takes all her strength to turn and walk away.